Emily Dickinson And Walt Whitman: Dissimilar Poets Establish Unique Writing Style

2134 words - 9 pages

Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman both were American poets who lived in the 19th century who strayed from the traditional style of writing poetry and formed their own individual style of writing which became the unique American style of poetry. Their lifestyles and writing styles were extremely different, as they shared little in common. The dissimilarities in these two poets are in the way they composed their poems and possibly in the content of the poems. Whitman established a unique style in the form of using free verse and Dickinson in her peculiar use of punctuation to establish her unique style of poetry.
Walt Whitman’s poems were written in free verse and very lengthy; Song of Myself is over thirteen thousand lines long and has 52 sections. The purpose of using free verse is for the author to create their own form and to emphasize certain words and sounds. Prior to this the author had fit the content into particular form of length and meter (College of the Canyons). Not only are his poems long but they are complex with lines of varying length and he often jumps from topic to topic. He writes from experience and often has Nature and Death as a theme. Emily Dickinson also frequently had death as a theme. Her poems are short, written in four line stanza with an ABCB rhyming scheme. They are lyrics, possibly hymns. An example of this is
“Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.
We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.
We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess--in the Ring--
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain--
We passed the Setting Sun--

Or rather--He passed us--
The Dews drew quivering and chill--
For only Gossamer, my Gown--
My Tippet--only Tulle--

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground--
The Roof was scarcely visible--
The Cornice--in the Ground--

Since then--'tis Centuries--and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses' Heads
Were toward Eternity-- ”(Dickinson, 712)
In this poem Death has been personified as a man pursuing a woman. He takes her for a ride in a carriage. She enjoys the ride and speaks about what she sees along the ride which is nothing unusually from any ride. As evening approaches she gets cold because she was not prepared for her date and is not dressed properly. Their designation is her grave. Then the reader realizes she has been dead for centuries. It appears she is just making the passage to the afterlife. Notice the odd capitalization of several of the words: Death, Immortality, School, Children, Recess, Ring, Fields of Grazing Grain, Setting Sun, Glossamer, Gown, Dews, Tippet, Tulle, House, Swelling, Ground, Road, Cornice, Centuries, Day, Horses Heads and Eternity. Capitalization seems to personify some of the words such as immortality, fields of grazing grain, setting sun, gown and immortality. The...

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